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22 May, 2008 19:39

Estonian removes 2 Soviet monuments

Estonian Police are investigating a man who removed two memorials to Soviet soldiers in central Tallinn, without official permission. It's the latest incident in Estonia highlighting the country's struggle with its Soviet past.

In a recent attempt to remove reminders of Estonia’s socialist past from the streets of Tallinn, Yuri Liim ripped out memorials to Soviet heroes.

He hired a man with a crane to do what he termed a clean-up job. The 66-year-old then took the stones to a Museum.

Yuri Liim calls his actions his holy duty, but they are seen by many as a way of increasing tensions between Russians and Estonians.

“I’m against any actions that provoke hatred between people. We need to think of the future. Why go back and rake the past? Such deeds as this cannot go unnoticed. And I’m sure the authorities of the country will react somehow,” Nina Pavlova, Chief of Tallinn Society of Victims Of Leningrad Siege, said.

And react they did. Estonian authorities who did not share Liim’s enthusiasm have ordered a police investigation.

A member of Estonia’s National Movement, Yuri Liim is notoriously famous in his country. Two years ago he threatened to blow up a Soviet war memorial in the centre of Tallinn unless the authorities removed it.

It was the relocation of that same monument which sparked violent riots in 2007. Dozens of protesters were arrested and one Russian was stabbed to death.